Wilson Ramos sought to improve, so he made adjustments on both sides. He spoke about and showcased them during spring training. But of course, none of it counts until the regular season.
One issue there: The season seems in jeopardy. If it even occurs, it will not resemble baseball as we know it. These are strange times.
Prior to the 2019 season, the Mets wanted to upgrade behind the plate. Many felt J.T. Realmuto could be in the mix, but the price became too steep to acquire him from Miami.
Instead, the Mets signed Ramos to a two-year, $19 million deal with a team option for a third year. They felt Ramos could provide right-handed power, as well as command a pitching staff like they desired.
"In short," general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said at the time, "Wilson was the perfect fit for us."
The big picture
If there is no baseball this year, it's possible you could have seen the last of Ramos in a Mets uniform. Would the Mets exercise his option worth $10 million? It is unclear.
In short: His bat is good, his defense must improve.
He hit .288 with 14 homers last season. But according to Baseball Prospectus, he cost the Mets 4.7 runs compared to the league average with his framing (he had 7,685 framing chances). His blocking was not as bad, however, as he only cost the team half a run over 5,143 chances.
Behind Ramos, the Mets have Nido — solid defensively but a liability at the plate (though he hired a personal hitting coach to improve his swing and feels there'll be a major difference). They also have veteran Rene Rivera.
Ramos is the clear starter if there is a 2020 season. Beyond that, nothing is for certain.
Adjustment at the plate
Over the offseason, Ramos tried to stop "cutting" his swing, which he said led to a ton of ground balls. During spring training, he was "staying through the ball" in hopes of lifting more into the air.
It seemed to be working. Yes, this was only spring training. Yes, it was also a small sample size.
Ramos felt comfortable with the change, though.
"It felt good," Ramos said after hitting a homer and a double on Feb. 24. "I feel very excited today."
Brandon Nimmo added that day: “If you would’ve seen his batting practice today, you would’ve thought something like this would probably happen. He was just launching balls out and you get in those grooves where you’re feeling really good with your swing.”
Last season, Ramos had a 62.4 percent ground ball rate, which was the second-highest mark of any big-league season in his career. He hopes to lower that number.
Ramos said it took about a month to adjust to the tweak in his swing. In spring training, he still worked on it in the batting cages because he did not want to revert back to old ways.
“We didn’t necessarily ask for that,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s coming from a really good offensive year. He wanted to work really hard and come prepared to spring training physically and also in his game.”
Adjustment behind the plate
By now, you're probably caught up on Noah Syndergaard's meeting with the front office to determine why his numbers were worse when throwing to Ramos as opposed to other catchers. During spring training, Ramos assured the two smoothed things over and communicated.
What the catcher came away with: His low targets must improve. To achieve that, Ramos began working with one knee on the ground. In spring training, manager Luis Rojas said many times that he liked Ramos' adjustment.
Those changes are easier to make during spring training, Ramos said, because there is more time. During the season, with games on most days, it becomes difficult to practice something new then implement it.
“To me, it was hard to get those (low) pitches a little bit because I’m a big guy," Ramos said then. "In the past, I never worked with my knee in the ground. This year and the end of the last year, I worked more with my knee on the ground. That helped me to grab those pitches down very well. This spring, I would like to work more with my knee on the ground. That will help give that low target to my guys. I hope they feel better about that low target."
Of course, the obvious questions remain.
Will it work?
And will Ramos be a Met after this season?